What is an Invisible Illness?

Now, I don’t want this to be a serious blog, nor a “woe is me” article. Anyone that knows me, and knows of my condition knows I don’t feel sorry for myself, at least, I try not to. And I know many other people who are also living with invisible illnesses. This blog is to bring awareness, and hopefully try and make people stop and think before immediately judging people or giving them a hard time.

Most people won’t know, or realise this but….

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So, how does an invisible illness affect me?

I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) in 2008 and due to the effect it has on my body, I have suffered with terrible anxiety for most of my life – or as it was once professionally diagnosed “self defeating personality disorder”. This is all because I have abnormal hormone levels due to my long term illness – one of the wonders of being female. Unfortunately, this can affect my general outlook, including normal, every day things like going out – feeling bad can make you just want to curl up in a ball and hide away, and also effects relationships, etc etc.

The sad truth is, when my body is working “normally” (whatever that is) I am the total opposite of that person – Many people that know me would describe me as fun loving, confident and mostly without a care in the world. Unfortunately it is a 50/50 state of affairs, and the people close to me (that get to see both sides) understandably find that very hard to deal with.

I won’t divulge into my symptoms, because i’m sure if anyone wants to know they will just ask me and it’s not something to tell the world about! But generally, I get away quite lightly compared to others and despite all of what I described, I lead a good, fulfilling life and I am very determined because of it.

So, what is an invisible illness?

Invisible illnesses are chronic illnesses and conditions that significantly impair normal activities of daily living. Approximately 96% of people with chronic medical conditions show no outward signs of their illness, and 10% experience symptoms that are considered disabling.

A chronic illness can hinder a person’s efforts to go to school, work, socialize, and more. Although the illness creates a challenge for the person who has it, the reality of it can be difficult for others to recognize or acknowledge, and even when they do know, they tend to forget about it quite quickly as it isn’t visible and therefore may not understand the cause of the problem, as they cannot see evidence of it in a visible way.

Here are some examples of invisible illnesses (by no means a complete list);

Allergies and Food In-tolerances
Arthritis
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Fibromyalgia
Depression and Mental Illness
Diabetes and other Blood Sugar Issues
Digestive Disorders (such as; IBS, colitis, Celiac, etc.)
Headaches, Migraines, etc.
Heart Conditions
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Infertility
Crohn’s Disease

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My Favourite UK Places Visited in 2014

I thought I would sum up some of the beautiful places I visited in 2014. I stayed in the UK last year and didn’t manage to get abroad but I am pleased to say I managed to make the most of being at home, and explored many places in the UK throughout the year.

Here are my top 5 places I visited during 2014:

Durdle Door, Dorset.

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Durdle Door in Dorset comes at the top of my list with regards to my favorite places visited in 2014. I was lucky to visit on a beautiful sunny Spring day over the Easter weekend.

Durdle Door is one of the most photographed landmarks along the Jurassic Coast. This rock arch in the sea was formed as a result of the softer rocks being eroded away behind the hard limestone, allowing the sea to punch through them. It is a beautiful sight to see as you are walking down the steep hill towards the beach. I promise, if you visit you will not be disappointed!

Below the cliffs lies a sweeping beach that was once three separate coves. This popular beach has no facilities although during the summer a mobile kiosk on the path leading to Durdle Door provides ice creams and refreshments.

We parked in the a dedicated car park which is available for visitors wishing to only access Durdle Door. There are parking charges that apply, but it was very reasonably priced and it can be reached by driving through the holiday park. The car park is clearly signposted from Lulworth Village and easy to find.

Great Langdale, The Lake District.

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I visited Great Langdale twice in 2014. First on a rainy March day where snow could still be seen on top of the fells. That day I climbed Pike O’Blisco at a magnificent 2,313 ft. I re-visited again for leisure in May when the weather was a great deal better! It is the most beautiful valley with the most amazing views to be seen whilst driving there.

The Great Langdale valley is some 12,170 acres, much of it in the care of the National Trust, who have ten farms here. The valley stretches from Ambleside through Clappersgate, Skelwith bridge, Elterwater, Chapel Stile, to the National Trust owned Dungeon Ghyll Hotel, of which I can highly recommend stopping for some food and a drink. A little pricey due to it’s location, but a well deserved pit stop. Park in the National Trust car park attached to the hotel, very reasonable for a whole day’s parking.

The surrounding fells include Pike O’Blisco, Crinkle Crags, Rossett Pike, and the Langdale Pikes – Pike O’Stickle, Harrison Stickle and Pavey Ark.

The Lizard, Cornwall.

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I have visited the Lizard many times over the years. I have been down to Cornwall at least once a year since I was 6 months old, and lived and worked in the county for 3 years (2005 – 2007) so I know it well. The Lizard is just one of those magical places I always get drawn back to. Try and visit on a sunny day, and you will be mesmerized by the rugged coastline and sun reflecting off the sea.

Heading south on to the Lizard, the scenery changes. The geology of the area creates a haven for exceptional plants and flowers. Around the coastline you’ll find little fishing ports with huge granite sea walls to protect from the Atlantic gales, restaurants specialising in freshly caught seafood, and gorgeous sandy bays with jagged black rocks jutting out in to the sea.

Stand right on the tip of the Lizard and look out to sea. At 49°57′ N, the most southerly point on the UK’s mainland, watch the waves as they hurtle to the shore and imagine the thousands of ships that have passed by this treacherous part of the coast on their way across the Atlantic. You’ll be captured by this place, just like I am.

Parking is easy out of season, the car park is located in the middle of the village and is paid for via an honesty box (another bona fide cornish custom) located near the public toilets.

Tintagel, Cornwall.
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Now, I absolutely love Tintagel. It’s another one of those Cornish coastal villages I just can’t keep away from. I have many wonderful memories from visiting the village and castle with my parents as a child. Quaint little pubs, tea shops and magical shops selling celtic trinkets, this village really is beautiful. Take a walk down the steep path to the entrance to the castle.

Set high on the rugged North Cornwall coast, you can enjoy dramatic sea views from the castle ruins on the headland and island. Steeped in myths and mystery, this is a spectacular place which has inspired artists and writers throughout history who have associated it with the legend of King Arthur and the story of Tristan and Isolde (Yseult).

With a history stretching as far back as the Romans, Tintagel Castle is one of the most iconic visitor attractions in the south west and I would highly recommend a visit if you are in the area.

Beacon Hill, Burghclere, Hampshire.

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I found Beacon Hill by accident one day when driving over towards Highclere Castle for a picnic. I randomly followed signs to a view point and it turned out to be a car park at the bottom of Beacon Hill. Following the footpath up the hill, seeing the steep gradient I knew the view was going to be good!

Beacon Hill is near the village of Burghclere in north Hampshire. The hill’s name is derived from the fact that it was one of many Beacon Hills in England and beyond. It is 261 metres high and has one of England’s most well known hill forts on its slopes, visible from the main A34 road which passes close by. From there, outstanding views of the surrounding area and much of Hampshire may be obtained.

This year, why not explore more of the UK and see what treasures you can find lying on your doorstep.

All photographs are my own.

Is Turning 30 Really As Bad as it Feels?

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As I am turning the dreaded 3-0 in less than 16 days (GULP!) I am beginning to focus towards the realization that my 20’s are pretty much over.

But, is it really as bad as it might feel?

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It’s no surprise that we feel like the world is at our feet in our 20’s, it’s the decade where we really piece together who we are. We generally finish our education in our early 20’s, we have our first real relationships, we get our first proper job and start to form some kind of basis for a career. Most of us will move out of the comfort of our parents home and create a home for ourselves elsewhere, It really is the groundwork for the rest of our adult lives. 30-cake

I for one, have been dreading seeing the months pass by, getting closer and closer to my 30th birthday.

But why? My boyfriend asked me why i’m dreading it so much, and to be honest, I just don’t really feel I’ve achieved much in the past 10 years, at least, not enough to warrant my 20’s coming to an end. When I was younger, as I am sure most girls do, I had my life mapped out. Married at 25, kids at 28. WELL, that certainly didn’t happen. But in fact, I am very glad it didn’t.

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Despite all of this, out of all of the things I’ve done in the last 30 years, none of them have killed me. And let’s be honest, I have done some pretty stupid stuff. These things have in fact made me better, stronger, and more rounded.

Here are 5 reasons why I am looking forward to my 30’s:

  1. Most of the mundane things in life are already over with. Most of us will have passed our driving test, climbed the career ladder, maybe settled down with someone and saved for a deposit by the time we’re 30. All the ‘stuff’ most of us end up doing that takes its sweet time will likely be over and done with. Now it’s time to enjoy ourselves!! (For a few years at least)
  2. People (should) take us more seriously. You know how you were faking it hoping no-one would notice? Well, it’s finally a reality. At some point, maybe when you’re training the interns or new hires, you realise, HEY! I actually know what I’m talking about! You’ve paid your dues, and it has finally paid off.
  3. Surprisingly, our life doesn’t end at 29. (Even if it feels like right now) If you haven’t already, you will most likely get married and have children in your 30’s. That’s definitely something to look forward too! Right?
  4. We’ve have flushed out all our “fake” friends. We now know our crazy radar is nothing to ignore or joke about. Toxic girlfriends? We can smell those from a mile away now. But damn, the ones who do stick around are definitely quality.
  5. Last but certainly not least, You’re a decade closer to retirement! And if that’s not something to look forward to, I don’t know what is.

As I approach this landmark in life, I am beginning to look forward to the coming years with my usual childish glee. Because I’ve realised, it’s the little things that make magic in our lives.

Finally, REMEMBER! It’s a BIG birthday and that means more presents than you’ve ever had, it’s also a chance to celebrate multiple times because it’s a mega milestone in your (up-until-now) youthful life. This is the last(?!?!) birthday you can legitimately get legless, dance on tables like a nutter and wear outfits designed for teenagers. Now, get out there and have some fun!

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Hungarian Beef & Potato Goulash

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My first recipe post is going to be for Hungarian Beef and Potato Goulash. I literally love this recipe, I cook this in a slow cooker on low for about 6 hours, or until the potatoes are soft enough for a knife to slide through them.

Ingredients;

  • 2 large onions
  • 1 splash oil
  • 500g good quality stewing beef, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 glass red wine (optional)
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 to 3 medium potatoes
  1. Finely chop onions and sweat in the oil in a pan. When translucent, add beef and brown. Sprinkle over the flour and mix well. This will help thicken the sauce later on.
  2. Remove pan from heat and add paprika. (If done over the heat, paprika will burn and the goulash will be bitter.) Put the beef and onions into your slow cooker. Stir and add wine (optional) and enough water to cover the beef plus an inch.
  3. Sprinkle in the stock cube, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper.
  4. Add peeled and cubed potatoes and cook on a low heat setting for about 6 hours, or a high setting for 4 hours.

So, who am i?

cropped-diaryofablondie.gifThe obvious question you are all asking is “Who are you?”

Well, that’s a variation of one of those venomous questions I quiver at the thought of being asked in an interview.

“So Donna, Tell me a little about yourself…” It’s always one of those situations where you really have to wonder what they are going to find interesting. I mean what do you say? Anyway, here goes;

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As you may have guessed from the above sentence, my name is Donna *waves*. I live in a large town called Reading, which is smack bang in the centre of Berkshire, we nestle nicely on the River Thames and about 40 minutes from London.

That’s the boring bit out-of-the-way! 🙂

In 16 days time I cross a milestone and turn 30 years old, quite a significant time in any ones life and I am probably going through some kind of midlife crisis. I work in Marketing and I constantly write blogs about subjects that really don’t interest me, I decided to put my talent to good use and start writing down all the things that make me happy and well, me!

This blog will focus on various topics, from cooking & baking, beauty and general life updates, to more health focused subjects that I deal with on a daily basis such as my ongoing battle with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome).

I hope I can find some subscribers and would love to hear ideas on what YOU would like to read.

All my love,

Donna x